It’s pointless to compare yourself, or your journey to others — everyone has a unique path and is at different points on theirs. Just focus on what you’re doing, and where you’re at, and be happy for others who are further ahead of you!
As a part of my series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Sarah Reynolds. Multi-talented songwriter, composer, producer, and performer Sarah Reynolds was raised in the Cotswolds alongside her musical siblings by parents who often favored world music over traditional pop. During her formative years, Reynolds learned piano and flute — skills she would showcase in church before beginning to write her own songs as a student of Alicia Keys’ first two albums. It was the blurring of genre lines that drew Reynolds to Keys, who remains a prime musical influence, along with Adele and Taylor Swift. Whilst at SOAS University (2007–2010), Reynolds began exploring music further, forming her first band and performing at marquee London venues such as Proud (Camden) and The Troubadour, as well as The Cavern in Liverpool for a Linda McCartney endorsed songwriting competition (2008). It was also during this time that she dived into the world of production and audio engineering, before signing her first publishing deal (2015). With ambitions of writing for TV and film, and predominately, for other artists, Reynolds continues to add to her growing catalogue, which already includes work with Victizzle, ‘Just Another Day’ (2013), a Karl Richardson collaboration End of the Road (2018) and the first of several upcoming collaborations with producer Standish Child: Strangers in the Dark (2019) which has amassed over 10,000 streams on Spotify. Reynolds’ knack for interesting and engaging melody is evident across her work, as is her inherent musicality.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Sarah! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Igrew up in a beautiful part of the UK countryside called the Cotswolds, which is made up of beautiful little villages and towns, and is a very popular tourist destination. I am the second born and only girl of five siblings, so the house was always noisy and packed growing up, which was great! We all learned piano, so music was pretty much non-stop in our house and I guess that’s where my initial love for music began. My parents never really listened to popular music which I felt somehow robbed me of proper musical education, but on car journeys, we mainly listened to East African (my dad grew up in Tanzania) or Cuban music, most of which we can still remember to this day! I always loved creative things (crafts, woodwork, drawing, etc) and have memories of being in the workshop with my Grandpa from a young age building things ranging from an eggcup to a wooden sword which I apparently brandished at church the next day and terrified an elderly lady! I had a really happy childhood, filled with memories of playing outside at the park with my brothers and friends, camping holidays in France, and bossing my 3 younger brothers around (being the only girl definitely had some perks!).
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
It really has been a combination of things over a very long period of time! I started learning classical piano age 7, and music has always been a thread throughout my life. But it wasn’t really until I was at uni (studying ‘Comparative Religions’ at SOAS in London), and doing more songwriting/starting performing at open mic nights, that I started to realize that music was pretty much the only thing I was truly passionate about! Before this point, I hadn’t really considered the fact that music could be a career path, and I was also hesitant to potentially turn something I loved into a ‘job’. But I truly wish that I had known I wanted to do music earlier in life!
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
One of the best experiences I have had was getting to go to an intimate session with the incredible songwriter, Diane Warren, where she played through and talked through some of her most famous songs and her journey. She had lost her voice so wasn’t able to sing, and asked for volunteers from the audience — one woman came down and ended up singing ‘Unbreak My Heart’ with Diane playing the piano, and it was just such a special moment. Hearing about Diane’s journey in such a personal way, was really inspiring and also gave me a reality check hearing about the amount of rejection she received when she was starting out.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Probably so many!! It’s always good to make mistakes though — that’s the best way to learn!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’ve recently made contact with a songwriter who I’m really excited to do some writing with. He’s got a real gift for songwriting, and I know that I’m going to learn a lot from him! We share similar approaches to writing, and I have a feeling something great is going to come from it 🙂
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
- It makes life so much more interesting!! Who wants to just see one type of person in film/TV/music? We live in such a beautifully diverse world, and that should be celebrated!
- It’s extremely important for children to see people who look like them/they can relate to in TV/film/the music industry, in a wide range of roles because we often only aspire to be what we believe to be possible. For example, I really want to see more female music producers/sound engineers, so that girls growing up actually realize that it’s an option for them!
- Increased diversity in any situation, provides possibilities to create more understanding and dialogue between people — and that is always a good thing!
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Prepare yourself for a very long journey!
- It’s pointless to compare yourself, or your journey to others — everyone has a unique path and is at different points on theirs. Just focus on what you’re doing, and where you’re at, and be happy for others who are further ahead of you!
- Don’t focus on the elusive ‘final destination’ — you really do have to enjoy the day to day simple things that makeup life.
- Make sure that you make time for friends and family, and enjoy those times — at the end of it all, this is what truly matters and has meaning.
- Even though you will constantly get discouraged, and feel like there is no point continuing — keep going, you never know what is around the corner!!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Take time for yourself, ensure that you spend time with close friends and family, and spend time away from your phone!
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Firstly, I’m definitely not a person of enormous influence haha!!! But, if I could inspire a movement that would impact people for the good, it would be something similar to Ellen’s ‘Be kind to one another’ movement which I absolutely love. It’s such a simple thing but has a HUGE impact if people truly live it out.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’m grateful to so many people, but one person, in particular, is my best friend, Precious. I think that there is something so special about a friendship where you can truly be yourself — be fully known and fully loved. She has spent SO many hours listening to me sharing my fears/dreams/doubts, and has given me so much encouragement, and shared so much wisdom with me over the years that we’ve known each other. Having her support has made such a difference in my life, and in my journey with music — I think I would have given up a long time ago if it wasn’t for her and her friendship. She loves music as much as I do too, so I can always trust her opinion when I ask for her feedback on songs I’m working on, etc!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained’ — this was something my Granny used to say, and it’s always stuck with me! I think it’s such a great encouragement to try new things, give something a go and not give in to fear.
Another one is ‘Don’t live it twice’ — which is something my best friend always tells me! Again, this is something I always think of if I’m worried about something coming up — it’s such great advice. There really is no point worrying about something and ‘living it twice’.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Alicia Keys! She was the first artist that I was obsessed with, and I have always just really resonated with both her music and her as a person. I think she has just a beautiful character, outlook, and that shines through in her music. I love that she combined classical piano with RnB/hip hop, and I think that her music (especially the first two albums) have a timelessness to them which will never fade for me!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!